Whether your diet is a matter of preference, principle or necessity, sticking to ANY commitment that requires you to categorically avoid or abstain from certain foods – even 60% of the time you leave the safety of your own kitchen – is a challenge I imagine to be equivalent to reaching base camp at Mount Everest. You start out strong, but eventually, you WILL be tested.
Just like a mountain trek, the non-paleo real world is filled with trials you must successfully navigate in order to come out on top (like walking past that ooey-gooey pizza in the window without even flinching), tests of will (holding your breath as you walk by that heavenly bakery), struggle with hallucinations while ordering your coffee black (even though the salted caramel latté is shamelessly flaunting her drizzle at you from the menu board).
And let’s not forget the endless SOCIAL engagements that will weigh on your resolve like a one-million-pound cupcake: the summer BBQ, the office pot-luck, the birthday dinner or your mother’s homemade apple pie – she baked just for you.
The Paleo road can be a hard road. I know, I’ve been living it for over 6 years.
There are 2 things I find to be the most challenging: Temptation is everywhere. So is judgement.
I’m not actually tempted by the foods I used to eat when I was “normal” and ate everything everyone else still does. It’s the easy, care-free simplicity of eating whatever I want wherever I go that I miss (even though I was often sick as a dog!). It’s the memory of it, you know? The joy of spilling into a coffee shop with a bunch of my girlfriends on a cold November day, our noses pink and sniffly from the cold air, warmed by the experience of sitting down together with our fancy cappuccinos and pieces of cake. It’s the breaking of bread that I don’t get to participate in very much, it’s living on the fringe of everyday society that makes my Warrior’s journey so lonely at times.
You see, in a way I have no choice. Because I am publicly known as a Paleo figure, people are always watching me, to see what I’ll order or what I’ll put on my plate – and then comment. They always comment. When I do bend the rules, there is a perception that because I’ve chosen this path, I must never deviate or falter, that I am 100% committed and must stand as a monument to the movement. Should I fail in my mission, I will undoubtedly face their scrutiny.
Let me tell you how I see it: Life is meant to be LIVED.
And to me that means life is to be enjoyed, experienced, adventured , luxuriated in and lived with passion!
So until Planet Paleo is discovered somewhere in our solar system and it’s safe for me to eat every single thing I come across, here’s what I do. I have rules:
- If it’s my birthday or your birthday, I’m eating cake!
- If it’s Christmas and the turkey is made with bread stuffing, get out of my way, that stuffing is MINE!
- If it’s a beautiful summer day and my sweetheart wants to buy me a chocolate dipped ice-cream cone,that chocolate is ending up all over my face!
- If it’s -30 outside with snowdrifts up to my knees, I will put on my flannel pyjamas, make Paleo pancakes and drown them in warm maple syrup – FOR DINNER
- If I walk into a coffee shop with a friend and choose to order a scone which looks exceptionally yummy, I will enjoy it 100% guilt free and love our moment together
Let me end with this: I live with Irritable Bowel Syndrome. For me, that means no gluten, no grains, no legumes, very little sugar and very little dairy. Over the past 6 years, I have mastered my diet and live my Paleo life joyfully, which is why I rarely deviate from what keeps me feeling and performing my best. But when I do, I do so deliberately, I own it.
So on the rare occasion that I am criticized for eating something non-Paleo, I remind people that while I am a Paleo Rock Star – to err is human. To indulge is DIVINE!